There are many things you can't tell about Creede Williams from listening to his second album After the Letters
. You can't tell that the Dallas musician learned to play guitar while writing and recording his 2005 debut album Something Borrowed
. You can't tell that when he's not touring he splits time as a lawyer in the violent world of professional wrestling. However, in an instant of listening you immediately notice one thing- this is an engaging, genuine and unabashedly upfront artist- and it isn't often that the music of a singer-songwriter can speak so loudly for itself.
Williams, who hails from a family of gospel singers, never imagined himself as a musician. He's spent his years earning a law degree, working as a "suit" in LA, and juggling the duties of an ordinary guy. However, as it so often plays out, some of the most beautiful things are borne out of the seemingly mundane. Williams finds himself, several years since his debut, a career musician and every bit the insightful wordsmith. Known for his self-deprecating humor onstage, Williams has played over 200 shows in the past three years, been selected as a Coca-Cola Artist of the Month, chosen as one of the best eight unsigned singer/songwriters in America, and taken part in an unaired reality TV series that featured the likes of Eric Hutchinson and G-Love and shared the stage with an assortment of musicians from Better than Ezra to WAR.
The critically acclaimed debut, Something Borrowed
, which featured the talents of the artists behind acts such as John Mayer, Colbie Caillat, Rob Thomas(Matchbox 20), Pat Monahan(Train), Vertical Horizon, and Jackopierce, displayed an artist discovering an eye for detail and a knack for delivering colorful melodies. Williams' follow-up proves to be an even more ambitious and strongly written work.
"Because I'm not a musician first, the words come first," Williams says. "As long as I can remember I've written words, right? It's the cadence and rhythm of something I've already written that turns into the songs that I play. After The Letters
sets out with pretty clear concept to draw all the songs together. For sometime I was floored by Raymond Carver and his way of drawing the reader into the idea of "the interim". This collection is about what happens in-between. We're all somewhere between the breakup and the new relationship, or between the lay-off and the new job, or between graduation and your first job. It's purgatory. That position between what was and what's going to be....the dreaming and the being."
Influentially speaking, Williams reconnected with some of his earlier favorites. He culled inspiration from artists like R.E.M., Counting Crows, James Taylor and Van Morrison to the power pop production of Mike Viola, Fountains of Wayne and the Beatles. His goal, he says, was to create something that delivered an uncluttered story in an emotionally honest way.
Armed with a massive number of new songs, Williams headed to Nashville where he recorded his new disc on and off over seven months. There, he was joined in the studio by veteran producer Cary Pierce (Jack Ingram, Graham Colton, Jackopierce, Guster
) and musicians that included Tommy B ( Prince, Switchfoot, Stevie Wonder
), Aaron Sands (Mat Kearney, Toad The Wet Sprocket, Jars of Clay
) and Greg Suran (Goo Goo Dolls, Five For Fighting, Avril Lavigne, Jewel
), who helped Williams augment his songs into a collection of '90s-influenced, radio-ready songs that surge with sincerity and catchiness.
After the Letters, which shifts from the charming blue-eyed soul of "Telegirl" to "Letting You Down," a compelling, emotive duet between Williams and Leigh Nash ( Sixpence None the Richer
), to the subtly twangy "Every Wrong Turn," encapsulates all the elements of the human experience, distilling the nuanced and subjective nature of our lives into twelve distinct songs. Each track tells its own story, and, in turn, all twelve work together to narrative a larger, cohesive portrait of what it means to be stuck in the interim.
That position is also true of Williams, who learned something valuable between the release of his first album and the making of his second. No matter how many jokes he makes or how he balances art with a trial docket, Williams is a musician. Neither he nor his listeners can deny that fact after hearing After The Letters
, and that's really all you need to know.
I grew up in Southeastern Oklahoma, the son of an English teacher and a car lot owner. My days consisted of Ray Charles' voice bouncing off the service department cement. My nights were all Van Morrison and nerf basketball. I spent most summers on my Grandfather's ranch or hustling people on a tennis court.
My first grade teacher said I'd never learn to read. Following law school, I moved to Los Angeles (where a lot of people can't read). Movie stars, boulevards, mail carts and psychotic executives quickly devoured my burgeoning career as a movie agent. Some of my friends still hang out on big screens at your movie theater. A lot of my friends in Texas make fun of my show business friends.
I currently balance singing and performing while working as an attorney. I am learning that club owners are tougher adjudicators than most Magistrate judges.
Strangely enough, I unconsciously mimic the dialect of whomever I'm speaking with, play audiobooks absurdly loud in the car and generally drive slow.
I wrote my first record from the highway while driving back to Texas. A lot of people still play the record while on the road. Sometimes I do. It's not as vain as it sounds. Maybe.
Some people make a record, tour the country, star in an (unaired)reality tv show and sign(and lose) a record deal. I'm no different from some people.
Folks are nice when they think you're just starting something. The critics generally liked my debut release "Something Borrowed". Audiences around the country moved in unison to many of the live shows. If you're reading this then I've completed the finishing touches on the second record, "After the letters". I think you should buy a Cadillac-full when it comes out....it just might change your life or mine.